Woodfibre LNG has recently been splashing out on full-page ads in local newspapers, plus targeted ads on social media.
Every time I see these ads there is a little cheer inside my head because it means we're winning. The Director of Communications at Woodfibre LNG actually thanked my co-founder, Eoin Finn, last year. Why? Because without us, she wouldn't have a job. In fact, Woodfibre LNG has at least four communications and community relations staff. We're making it that difficult for them.
So let's have some fun and debunk these two ads.
#1: The Woodfibre LNG site has been providing good industry jobs to Squamish for over 100 years.
First up, how do you define a "good industry job?" When the pulp mill was running, yes, there were 400 jobs, but there was also toxic environmental pollution that destroyed the health of Howe Sound. Herring and ooligan disappeared. Salmon runs were decimated. We didn't see whales in Howe Sound for nearly 100 years. Is that a "good industry job?"
We don't think so. We know better now than we did then, and we see "good industry jobs" as those jobs that benefit everyone, that increase the health and well being of our communities, and protect our ecosystems and our climate.
Not jobs that will increase fracking, destroy salmon runs, poison water, and increase cancer rates for people that live in northern BC, particularly in Indigenous communities (this is known as environmental racism). Not jobs that only benefit a few people, that will increase local air pollution, tear at the social fabric of our communities, and threaten the incredible recovery of Howe Sound. And not jobs that will lock in carbon pollution for another forty years and help destroy our climate.
Secondly, while Woodfibre LNG is trying to buy social license for "good industry jobs" it is actively lobbying the Provincial government to bring in Temporary Foreign Workers.
During construction, Woodfibre LNG has estimated that only 38.5 of the total 895 jobs will be filled by Squamish locals.
In 2014, Premier Christy Clark signed a deal to allow temporary foreign workers to build LNG export facilities.
In an update to Squamish Council on 12th November 2019, Woodfibre LNG's Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Rob Mingay, said:
"We are in an extremely tight labour market. We are virtually full employment throughout the Province. We are going to do absolutely everything we can, first of all, to provide jobs for Squamish Nation, to provide procurement opportunities for the Squamish Nation, and to provide opportunities—where the skills are there—for those who reside in the Sea to Sky corridor and Squamish in particular... But we also know that it's not going to be possible, there are not 850 skilled workers in the trades we need in this Sea to Sky corridor."
Woodfibre LNG staff also noted at the same meeting that they are exploring water taxi direct from Vancouver Airport. This means fly-in fly-out workers.
While yes, the labour market may have changed with COVID-19, we still don't have the skilled workers to do these jobs. Woodfibre LNG's allusion to "good industry jobs" is nothing more than clever marketing designed to fool the gullible.
#2: Woodfibre LNG has spent over $12 million dollars to clean up the old pulp and paper mill.
Woodfibre LNG touts the clean-up of the site as if they're doing this out of the goodness of their heart, but the truth is that the site remediation was a condition of buying the property from Western Forest Products in 2015. Woodfibre LNG has to clean up the site to earn a certificate of compliance.
It also reminds us that industry has a history of leaving behind a legacy of toxic pollution. What kind of mess will Woodfibre LNG leave behind? Who will be responsible to clean up that mess?
The good news is that the new mandate letter for Minister Bruce Ralston, instructs him "to ensure owners of large industrial projects are bonded moving forward so that they—not B.C. taxpayers—pay the full costs of environmental cleanup if their projects are abandoned."
With potential acid rock drainage from the 9 km pipeline underneath the Squamish estuary, and the very real possibility that the LNG market will crash and burn in the next decade, we need to ensure that both FortisBC and Woodfibre LNG pay a hefty bond to ensure that taxpayers are not left on the hook to clean up whatever mess these two projects leave behind.
So the next time you see these ads, please share this information with your neighbours and friends.
Executive Director, My Sea to Sky
My Sea to Sky is incredibly proud and grateful to say that we rely on the My Sea to Sky community for small donations that provide the majority of our funding. Since our launch in 2014, we have been funded through personal savings, family and friends; and powered by the passion of our volunteers. Your generous contribution will help us to run our critical campaigns to defend, protect, and restore Howe Sound. Can you chip in?